L-lactate dehydrogenases can reduce alpha-keto carboxylic acids asymmetrically and generally have a broad substrate spectrum. L-lactate dehydrogenase gene (LF-L-LDH0845) with reducing activity towards 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpyruvate and phenylpyruvate was obtained from Lactobacillus fermentum JN248. To change the substrate specificity of LDH0845 and improve its catalytic activity towards large substrates, site-directed mutation of Tyr221 was performed by analyzing the amino acids in active center. Kinetic parameters show that the k cat values of Y221F mutant on 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpyruvate, 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate, and glyoxylate are 1.21 s -1 , 1.35 s -1 , and 0.72 s -1 , respectively, which are 420%, 150% and 130% of the wild-type LDH0845. This study shows that the mutations of Y221 can significantly change the substrate specificity of LDH0845, making it become a potential tool enzyme for the reduction of alpha-keto carboxylic acids with large functional groups.